Best Movies of 1980

10. AIRPLANE!

48 LISTS | 0 TOP SPOTS
Jim Abrahams, David Zucker & Jerry Zucker | 88 mins | Comedy
Robert Hays | Julie Hagerty | Leslie Nielsen

“This marvelous, full-bodied, nut-packed parody, having been directed by three people, is the exception to the above statement. Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker not only wrote the screenplay together, they then directed it in some sort of magical collaboration. However they did it, ”Airplane!” is the most thoroughly satisfying movie spoof since Mel Brooks’s ”Young Frankenstein.” The immediate point of departure is an old 1950’s, airplanein-distress movie called ”Zero Hour,” but it also successfully nails the various ”Airport” movies. Even its advertising campaign (”What’s slower than a speeding bullet, and often hits tall buildings?”) is first-rate.” – Vincent Canby, New York Times

9. THE GREAT SANTINI

49 LISTS | 0 TOP SPOTS
Lewis John Carlino | 115 mins | Drama
Robert Duvall | Blythe Danner | Michael O'Keefe

“A terrible title for a stirring and somewhat old-fashioned movie about family values. Robert DuVall deserves bravos for his commanding portrayal of a pig-headed but fascinating Marine pilot who treats his wife (Blythe Danner) and four children as if he were commanding a squadron. An understated movie of many moods that takes a slow but strong hold on your emotions.” – Donna Chernin, Cleveland Plain Dealer

8. THE STUNT MAN

53 LISTS | 1 TOP SPOT
Richard Rush | 131 mins | Action/Comedy/Drama
Peter O'Toole | Steve Railsback | Barbara Hershey

“Why this movie hasn’t caught on with the public is a bit of a mystery but it may be the boldest piece of filmmaking of 1980. Peter O’Toole commands the screen as a tyrannical film director who manipulates people by lying, tormenting and cajoling them with his egomaniacal bravado. Steve Railsback shines in the title role as a fugitive who stumbles onto a film set and under O’Toole’s spell. Director Richard Rush also has a good time manipulating the audience, getting lost in that gray area between fantasy and reality. The film is a dizzying whirlwind of visual mind games that leaves you exhausted but exhilarated.” – Tony DeSena, The Aquarius

7. MELVIN AND HOWARD

55 LISTS | 4 TOP SPOTS
Jonathan Demme | 95 mins | Comedy/Drama
Paul Le Mat | Jason Robards | Elizabeth Cheshire

“This film has more weak points than any other film on my list. But its high points are so memorable that it demands inclusion. It’s an off-beat version of the classic American story of a poor boy on the threshold of becoming a multimillionaire because of a good deed. Melvin rescues an apparent derelict in the desert. It just so happens that the person he saves is Howard – Howard Hughes. The performances by Jason Robards as Hughes and Paul LeMat as Melvin Dummar are perfectly in tune with director Jonathan Demme’s vision. Dummar doesn’t end up wealthy or smart but his story is worth a million dollars.” – Michael Blowen, Boston Globe

6. THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

59 LISTS | 5 TOP SPOTS
Irvin Kershner | 124 mins | Action/Adventure/Fantasy
Mark Hamill | Harrison Ford | Carrie Fisher

“’Why don’t they make movies like The Adventures of Robin Hood anymore?’ an old-timer asks. Actually they do; the movies are simply set in outer space instead of medieval England. This sequel was as good as its illustrious predecessor Star Wars, even if it left us dangling at the end. And thanks to both Yoda and Harrison Ford for percolating the action.” – Philip Wuntch, Dallas News

5. BREAKER MORANT

68 LISTS | 6 TOP SPOTS
Bruce Beresford | 107 mins | Drama/History/War
Edward Woodward | Jack Thompson | John Waters

“Australia to the rescue again, with a riveting beautifully photographed and brilliantly directed drama about a military court-martial in 1901, a year before the end of the Boer War. In a desert outpost in South Africa, two Australians and one Englishman were tried and convicted for murdering Boer prisoners and a German missionary, insisting that the killings were carried out under orders from the British commander, Lord Kitchener himself. Assigned a defense lawyer who had never tried a case, and ignored by their own officers, who fled before they could testify, these victims became unwilling and innocent pawns in a shameful case of political expedience. Jack Thompson, as the desperate defense attorney, became a major star, and Bruce Beresford catapulted to the front ranks of International directors. This is powerful history, filmed with the urgency and suspense of a great mystery story. Bravo, Australia.” – Rex Reed

4. COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER

66 LISTS | 1 TOP SPOT
Michael Apted | 124 mins | Biography/Drama/Music
Sissy Spacek | Tommy Lee Jones | Levon Helm

“Movies about the rise of musical stars are usually pretty awful, like “Honeysuckle Rose,” or look fake, like “The Buddy Holly Story.” Although “Coal Miner’s Daughter” has little plot, British director Michael Apted has created a movie about country singer Loretta Lynn that is warm and resonant. The scenes set in West Virginia look like Dorothea Lange photographs. The movie’s primary emphasis is how Lynn’s family saved her from professional pressure. Sissy Spacek turns in an ingratiating performance as Lynn, and does her own singing, which ain’t bad. Also marvelous is Beverly D’Angelo as Patsy Cline and Tommy Lee Jones as Lynn’s husband.” – John Stark, San Francisco Examiner

3. THE ELEPHANT MAN

70 LISTS | 8 TOP SPOTS
David Lynch | 124 mins | Biography/Drama
Anthony Hopkins | John Hurt | Anne Bancroft

“In retelling the true story of Jahn Merrick (John Hurt), the 19th-century sideshow freak whose terrible deformity masked a civilized soul, writer-director David Lynch creates a tension between horror and sentiment that sets the emotions churning. This is not a perfect film – it often drifts towards bathos – but it’s a hypnotic one. Freddie Francis’s black-and-white cinematography conjures up a spellbinding nightmare of Dickensian London, and John Hurt, laboring under pounds of disfiguring make-up, conveys the tragic beauty of a humanity stripped to its elements.” – Stephen Schiff, Boston Phoenix

2. RAGING BULL

75 LISTS | 16 TOP SPOTS
Martin Scorsese | 129 mins | Biography/Drama/Sport
Robert De Niro | Cathy Moriarty | Joe Pesci

“Pouring over a stack of the past year’s reviews and reflecting on their contents, I was struck at how many of the truly fine films were foreign – or, to put it another way, how few of the good movies were American. The best of the American films, though, displayed an emotional power rarely matched by the imports. Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull,” for my money the finest domestic production of the year, stands alone for sheer demonic forcefulness. Robert De Niro’s strong and shrewd portrayal of boxer Jake La Motta as a wild beast obsessed by sexual jealousy becomes something that is purely American and yet subtly alien. The coarse language of “Raging Bull” is unadulterated urban American, as are the manners and mores of La Motta’s thuggish world. But Scorsese’s spititual center of vision, his concern with La Motta’s sinfulness, is as old-world as St. Augustine or St. Paul.” – Alan Berger, Boston Herald

1. ORDINARY PEOPLE

109 LISTS | 29 TOP SPOTS
Robert Redford | 124 mins | Drama
Donald Sutherland | Mary Tyler Moore | Judd Hirsch

“Proof that a Hollywood movie can be personal. The film’s appeal derives from its sensitive treatment of a contemporary American phenomenon, the spiritual and psychological erosion of the affluent American family. Director Robert Redford elicits an astonishing performance from Mary Tyler Moore playing a suburban matriarch who survives by ignoring all the alarming signs of stress in her family and pretending that everything is fine.” – Bruce McCabe, Boston Globe

Full List:

RFilmL#1ARL%#1%TCLTCL1TCL%TCL1%
1Ordinary People109293.0877%31%381076%28%
2Raging Bull75163.0052%17%32564%14%
3The Elephant Man7084.6849%8%21242%6%
4Coal Miner's Daughter6615.0646%1%19038%0%
5Breaker Morant6865.0345%6%24348%8%
6The Empire Strikes Back5955.1842%5%22144%3%
7Melvin and Howard5545.1337%4%22244%6%
8The Stunt Man5315.6237%1%20040%0%
9The Great Santini4905.6935%0%14028%0%
10Airplane!4806.7234%0%17034%0%
11The Tin Drum4315.1630%1%18136%3%
12Tess4325.1529%2%14128%3%
13My Brilliant Career3645.8125%4%12124%3%
14Dressed to Kill3615.9525%1%12024%0%
14My Bodyguard3616.6225%1%6012%0%
16Kagemusha3434.1923%3%11122%3%
17Stardust Memories3215.5623%1%12024%0%
18Fame3205.3823%0%10020%0%
19Mon Oncle d'Amerique3035.4121%3%14228%6%
20Wise Blood2714.4319%1%10020%0%
21The Long Riders2507.0018%0%5010%0%
22Return of the Secaucus Seven2224.7815%2%12124%3%
23The Shining2116.6415%1%7014%0%
24The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith1923.8013%2%5110%3%
25Best Boy1806.4413%0%8016%0%
26Angi Vera1706.5012%0%8016%0%
27Brubaker1506.8211%0%5010%0%
28Resurrection1507.0011%0%408%0%
29Altered States1525.0010%2%7114%3%
30The Big Red One1406.2010%0%6012%0%
31Every Man For Himself1404.3810%0%8016%0%
32Gloria (1980)1306.139%0%5010%0%
33Urban Cowboy1106.408%0%102%0%
34Popeye1108.008%0%5010%0%
35Bad Timing1114.258%1%408%0%
36Bye Bye Brazil1005.437%0%5010%0%

Lists Included 142 | Top Critics’ Lists Included 50

R Rank
L Total number of lists where the film was selected as one of the top 10 films of the year
AR Average position on ranked top 10 lists
#1 Total number of lists where the film was selected as the best film of the year
L% Percentage of total lists where the film was selected as one of the top 10 films of the year
#1% Percentage of mentions where the film was selected as the best film of the year
TCL Number of times that the film was selected as one of the top 10 films of the year on top critics’ lists
TCL1 Number of times that the film was selected as the best film of the year on top critics’ lists
TCL% Percentage of times that the film was selected as one of the top 10 films of the year on top critics’ lists
TCL1% Percentage of lists where the film was selected as the best film of the year on top critics’ lists

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